June 23, 2009

FITZCARRALDO SOUNDTRACK:

Fail better: Jóhann Jóhannsson explores the ruins of dreams (MICHAEL BRODEUR, June 23, 2009, Boston Phoenix)

It's another gross, rainy afternoon in Boston, and I'm on the phone to Copenhagen with Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson talking about failure and despair. Great. Maybe I just had weird assumptions about Icelanders, but I expected we'd proceed on jollier terms — I was, after all, still rocking goosebumps from a fresh pass through Fordlândia, his most recent suite of compositions for 4AD. Had I the coffee in me to draw parallels between the personality of the composer and that of his works, I might have known enough to be patient and let the mood lift of its own accord — and of course it does.

"There's a beauty to this sort of over-reaching, though," Jóhannsson continues. "It's part of any creative act. There's a beauty in failure. And it's this heroic failure that I'm interested in."

Heroic failures like Fordlândia itself — Henry Ford's ill-fated and short-lived 1928 attempt at a utopian rubber plantation/village stuck into a particularly unfavorable patch of land in the middle of the Amazon rain forest. (Sounded pretty solid, though, right?) The sound of Jóhannsson's Fordlândia is a soaring aerial view of decayed optimism, as overgrown with lush thickets of strings as the ruins are with "the Amazon forest slowly and surely reclaiming" them. But if the music conveys a sense of paradise failed and fading, it also conveys the hope that allowed the dream to fail in the first place.


MORE:
-Johann Johannsson: Ambience In Action (Stephen Thompson, February 11, 2009, NPR.org)


Posted by Orrin Judd at June 23, 2009 5:48 PM
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